All of you on municipal water should be thankful. When this neighborhood was first developed, it was way out in the country, far from city water sources. All the houses are equipped with a well and septic tank. Basically, you have a well and a pump which pulls water into the house.
When we first moved in here, I thought it'd be great to forgo the monthly water/sewage bill. However, I had no idea what I was getting into. Most of these wells have some sort of minerals or smell that you don't want, so you have to have a water softener or other filtration system. We had a salt softener which means we had to buy bags of salt every few weeks. And, since you have an electric pump that drives the water into your house, if the power is out, so is the water. Here are a few of the other issues I've had to deal with.
- Our old water softener (essential if you didn't want iron stains everywhere) finally quit. We bought a brand-new one from Sears which I installed.
- Not long after getting the new softener, the pump, which is in the garage, started making funny noises and running a lot. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then, one morning, it spat a bunch of sand into every toilet. The well had collapsed. We called around and found out it would be $1000 to dig another shallow well (80 feet). Then we remembered that we already had a deep well, shared with our neighbor, which we used to run the sprinklers. It's an artesian well and the water is good quality. The water from this well doesn't have any iron, which made the brand-new softener unnecessary. It does have a sulfur smell, which requires an aerator tank. This is a giant tank which holds the water from the well and lets the gas evaporate prior to entering the house. We hooked it into the sprinkler pipes and voila, we had water again. All this cost about $1200.
- Shortly after this, our pressure tank failed. In order to maintain a constant pressure in the pipes in the house, the pump pushes the water into a tank which has a rubber bladder filled with air until a certain pressure is reached (we use 40 lbs). Once the tank pressure drops below 25 lbs, the pump starts up. I had to replace the tank, which is easy to do fortunately, but it set me back a couple of hundred dollars.
- When we had the pool built, we knew it would tear up the sprinkler system. This is normal when pools are built. However, most people's house water doesn't rely on their sprinkler system integrity. While the pool was built, we ran a hose from the artesian well into the aerator tank. It has enough pressure to fill the tank without a separate pump. After everything was done, we had a separate spur run from the well into the aerator. Along with the sprinkler rebuild, another $1000.
- Tonight, Tori noticed the toilet making spitting noises. That means air in the pipes. Oh, shit. I checked all the taps, toilets and hoses to make sure one hasn't been running and drained the aerator tank. Nope, but the tank was empty. I heard a rushing water noise coming from the back of the yard, faintly. I grabbed the flashlight (it was already 9:30 and I was in my boxers) and went to check it out. All around the sprinkler pumphouse, there's a giant lake about 3 or 4 inches deep, the pump was running nonstop and water was gushing. I shut off the breaker to the pump and then cut off the well at the source. This stopped the leak, but it also stops the aerator tank from filling. After wading through the lake, I saw that a pipe had busted loose inside the pumphouse. At least it's an easy fix. So for now, I dragged out three hoses, hooked them together and ran them from the tap on the wellhead to the auxiliary input valve on our aerator tank.
All this doesn't even go into the separate problems we've had with the sprinkler system. I'll be very happy to go back to paying my water bill.